Wave Goodbye

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Wave Goodbye Empty Wave Goodbye

Post  Jessica Swanson on Fri Jul 23, 2010 1:29 pm

The truth is, I saw him before the wave tore him away.

It was summer, the season of carelessness and relaxation, the time to stay up late and sleep in, bask in the sunlight and disregard work. It was the time I met Daniel, the boy whose aunt lived next door. His parents were getting a divorce and he’d come to live with his Aunt Gretchen, an elderly woman who beat birds off her porch with a broom and baked oatmeal raisin cookies that my brother Leo and I constantly tried to sneak to our dog Bandit. (Even so, we’d each had to try one every once in a while, if Ms. Gretchen was watching or if our dog was unavailable. They tasted okay, like the kind of cookie that would be good, if you liked that sort of flavor.) Daniel was exactly three months younger than me and going into fourth grade, just like me. Those summer nights were spent in our backyard, sparkling with fireflies, Leo, Daniel, and I running and weaving in and out of the few trees that sprouted out of the dry ground.

Mom, official coordinator of summer fun, had planned a beach excursion to take place three weeks after we met Daniel, and on the morning before we left, she was slathering us with sunscreen. “Can Daniel come, too?” asked Leo as she spread the sunblock over his shoulder.

“Sure,” she muttered absently. “Ask his mother.”

“His mother’s not here,” I piped up, edging away nervously from the bottle of SPF. I hated the lotion and much preferred being reddened to a crisp than having to walk around slippery and smelling of the water park and tourists.

“He lives with Ms. Gretchen over the summer,” explained Leo.

“Then ask her,” said Mom, finishing with Leo. He scratched irritably at his now shiny skin and began walking over to the house to our left. “Your turn, Jeannie.” Mom turned to me and squirted a half-dollar sized blob of white goo into the palm of hand. I backed away, trying to avoid her, but she was taller and faster than I was, and I soon found myself coated in Banana Boat sunblock.

As it turned out, Daniel could go to the beach with us. He rode in the backseat with me while Leo sat in the passenger seat. We played car games on the way there, and the time passed quickly, as if an hourglass had cracked open and sand was pouring out. The sand at the beach was golden and warm, like waffle crumbs scatted across the shore. The water was rolling and playful, the kind of deep blue that you only saw in those vacation brochures that were insanely fake. Leo immediately ripped off his T-shirt and ran into the water, sidestepping girls in bikinis tanning on their towels and tiny children too young to swim digging in the sand like the hermit crabs they were trying to find.

Daniel and I spent most of our time on the shore, building a sand castle with towers and spires that reached almost over our heads when we were sitting down and decorative shells adorning the walls. We tried to make a moat, but the water kept soaking into the sand and we gave up. By that time it was hot, and I was covered in sand and tired of sitting down. “Let’s go in the water,” I suggested, jumping up.

“I’d rather just stay here,” he said meekly, ducking down and tracing something on the castle.

“Oh, come on!” I said, “It’ll be fun!”

“Alright,” he sighed reluctantly, pushing himself into a standing position. He let me lead him out to waist lever, chest-level at the highest waves. “This is fine right here,” he said, sounding panicked.

“Boring,” I groaned, pulling him farther. Leo was way out, bodysurfing near the sandbar. “Think how surprised he’ll be if we go out to where he is.” Daniel mumbled something I couldn’t hear. We kept walking through the water until we couldn’t stand, and even then we swam a little farther. We were past Leo, past the sandbar. The waves were bigger out here, crashing on our heads so that we went under a few times. Daniel was treading water, looking worried. Leo was palling around with some guys he’d met in the water, playing games to see who could stay above a wave longer. I pretended I was watching him at the time I felt Daniel slipping away, felt the absence of his tread-induced ripples. I imagined that the sounds of the beach-goers and the crashing waves drowned out his cries for help. I watched him float away and recognized that I could have saved him but I might not have been able to, and that for the rest of my life I’d be lying to everyone. I realized all this as Daniel Friar’s last words were carried away by the wind and his head went underwater for the last time.

Jessica Swanson
Jessica Swanson

Posts : 31
Join date : 2010-07-23
Age : 22
Location : Summerville, South Carolina

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